In the past few decades, the benefits of digital marketplaces have become clear. We’ve seen different types of marketplaces redefine many of the ways people live and transact. Companies like eBay, Airbnb, Uber, Lyft, Etsy, Postmates, and Instacart have skyrocketed and spurred new societal trends like the gig economy, microentrepreneurship, and new forms of creativity.
Venture investors have noticed. Marketplace startups are one of the biggest sectors for venture capital investment, with record breaking investment numbers in 2021 to an all-time high of $139B. Marketplace unicorns have grown 70% in value since Jan 2020 to more than $5 trillion, outperforming tech overall. As of April 2021, more than 370 marketplace unicorns have been created globally, yet the future and models of online marketplaces continue to evolve.
Several key characteristics of online marketplaces stand out: